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Trailer owners have been urged to check their towbars before they head to competitions this summer.
Neil Lodge of manufacturer Bosal said it is “essential” drivers check before they travel to minimise the chance of an accident.
“Having the right towbar can literally make all the difference,” he said. “There are towbars out there that are either not fit for purpose or poorly installed. Many people don’t know what they’re looking for and it’d be a massive shame to see any horses injured as a direct result of that.”
Bosal pointed out that owners should be aware EU and UK regulations on towing weight and towbar design have changed in recent years.
“With more cars on the road than ever it’s essential that horse owners do all that they can to minimise the chances of a fatal accident. There’s a lot of dodgy towbars out there and not enough awareness about it,” Mr Lodge said.
The company urged owners to ensure towbars are type-approved, which means they meet the appropriate requirements, and vehicle-specific.
“In order to make sure you are towing both safely and compliantly, manufacturers design towbars using data such as car manufacturers’ specified fixing points, the gross vehicle weight and the gross trailer weight,” said a spokesman. “With car model specifications changing regularly, it’s important you invest in a towbar that matches the specification of the make and model of your vehicle.”
Bosal also warned that towbars must be fitted by experts.
“Don’t try to install a towbar yourself,” the spokesman said. “Without experience, installing a towbar can be very dangerous and so it is highly recommended that you consult a qualified fitter in order to minimise any risk, to vehicle, trailer or passengers.”
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Jon Phillips, of the Organisation of Horsebox and Trailer Owners, agreed owners should never try to fit their own towbars, “under any circumstances”, and advised against buying “cheaper options”.
“And if possible, get the towbar the car manufacturer recommends,” he told H&H, adding that some manufacturers make their own, while others will prefer a certain make.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if there were cheaper ones out there that aren’t fit for the job,” he said. “It’s just a case of getting one that’s fit for purpose.”
Mr Phillips added that he maintains many riders see their horses as their “babies”.
“If you could transport your horse the way you would babies, that would prevent an awful lot of the accidents we have,” he said.